Who's the First to Hit the Ground?

Summary: A fic about Garland's family and the effect they have on him. I pretty much invented the whole family, explanation inside. It will boil down to a Garland, Brooklyn and Mystel friendship fic, and I might throw in The Blitzkrieg Boys, just to keep things interesting.

Unfortunately, I don't know half as much as I would like to about these guys. I've only seen Mystel once… I think it was against Max, if they ever bladed? And what I've seen of Garland and Brooklyn? I saw Garland's battle against Tyson, and I saw them right at the beginning, when they were watching Tyson blade against Crusher. And I saw a tiny bit of the Brooklyn vs. Kai battle, where Kai lost. If anyone can somehow send me clips or something, I would be very grateful. Contact me somehow. So enjoy…

Oh yes, one more thing. This takes place pretty much just after Boris was defeated, BEGA are all still under Boris, and Tala is still in his coma. And I made Garland English. I thought it would work better with the storyline.

Apologies for OOCishness… and remember: Don't sue, Complain!

Who's the First to Hit the Ground?

Pax. That was what Garland called him. Not Brooklyn, nor Brooke, not 'boy' or 'brat'. Pax.

He quite liked it.

"But why Pax?" He asked. Garland just gave his funny half smile and turned away. But Brooklyn persevered. "Tell me!"

"Means peace. Stands to reason you're the most peaceful guy I've ever met. It's Latin." Where, or how he'd learnt Latin, was another question for another day.

Garland was well read and learned. In Brooklyn's world, people like that didn't talk to people like him. So he didn't ask.

But that didn't stop him wondering.

Not many people knew that Garland Seabalt had a twin.

Coryn Seabalt was the stronger, better-looking and altogether nicer twin. The boys said that they were non identical, but they looked more like each other than they realised. Both had long silvery grey hair, although Coryn had cut his so that he had a fringe that dipped into his eyes, and it only reached his shoulder blades. The marks on their foreheads were both red, and they were both heavily muscled. But there all similarities ended.

Coryn's chosen sport was football; soccer, if you like. He was good at it; after all, he was a Seabalt after all. He was cruel and sadistic, and had never done a day's homework in his life. Yet he still got straight A's. The reason? He made his twin do it for him.

The trouble had started when their parents had taken them to see a psychic, a few months after their birth.

"One of these children has been born steeped in sin, and wishes to do nothing but evil, the other has a soul so pure angels can do nought but bow before it."

Garland woke with a gasp, his silver hair flying around him as he sat up. He flicked on the light switch that was next to his bed and looked around, his features softening as he watched his friends sleep.

Apollon? He called silently, casting his mind around for his bit beast.

I am here. Always here, young master. What troubles your weary mind?

He's here.

Master, no. He is far from here. He is in Land's End, where you left him.

And the others?

Kylie has a tournament in a couple of hours. She is sleeping. Marcus is fixing Bubba, it overturned last week. Garland smirked as he thought of his elder brother's car, named 'Bubba' by all and sundry. Adaira is riding; she is waiting for Marcus to fix Bubba so he can drop her at Badminton. Taylor is also asleep. Your mater and pater too. So should you be, master.

I don't want to. Garland sat stubbornly up in the bed, like a small child.

Don't tempt me. Apollon chided mockingly. The bit beast's tenderness was the only form of love he'd ever known, after the prophecy had been made. They knew each other so well.

Shan't. You can't make me. Apollon pushed him down and enveloped him with his wings.

Garland was asleep within the hour.

The Seabalt family had split in half. On one side; Coryn, Kylie and their parents, Richard and Adele. On the other; Adaira and Taylor. Marcus sat on the fence.

The arguments were over the same thing. The twins. Or rather; which one was the good twin, which the bad. One side thought that Garland was the good, Coryn the bad and the other side felt the opposite.

It was no ordinary feud.

The next thing Garland knew, it was morning and Mystel was shaking his shoulders nervously. Mystel and Brooklyn took it in turns to wake him up in the mornings, because (a) Brooklyn said he was not going to play babysitter to someone who was born a mere two weeks before him and (b) Mystel said that Garland terrified the wits out of him when he woke up, because his eyes opened so huge, yet they were so vague,

Garland shook his head blurrily, trying to instil sensible, team captain thoughts into his head. It didn't work. He groaned and flopped back down onto the bed, closing his eyes. The next thing he knew, Brooklyn was assaulting him with a pillow. Garland groaned and cracked open an eye, searching for a weapon to attack his friend with. He could hear Mystel giggling shyly in the background as the silver haired blader and the red haired blader proceeded to have a very large pillow fight.

Marcus Seabalt was confused. Usually, he could switch his mind off as he tinkered with Bubba, but today, for some odd reason, his mind was running riot.

He was becoming forgetful. Where did he put that oil cap? And the new alloys, had he finished making them? It was because his mind was fixed on his baby brother. At twenty three years of age, he was almost directly in the middle of the clan. Garland and Coryn were seventeen, Kylie was twenty, Adaira was twenty five and Taylor was twenty seven.

"Oh Bubba." He sighed, running a hand across her gleaming paintwork. "When did life become so complicated?"

For Marcus did not trust his smooth talking younger brother. He much preferred the one who would stumblingly mutter a few words in your ear, and then help you design new alloys until he dropped, rather than the one who always had an answer, who would never dream of demeaning himself to help a competitor. So why didn't he join Taylor and Adaira then?

Because he was scared of being proved wrong. Marcus was a true Seabalt; he hated failure.

Today was a dark day. Brooklyn knew it from the minute he woke up. He couldn't work on a dark day. He couldn't do anything on a dark day. He just stared out the window.

"Pax?" Garland touched his shoulder gently. He gave no answer. Garland swung his feet around and joined Brooklyn in the window seat. "What's wrong?" Brooklyn just shuddered and muttered under his breath. "You don't have to tell me. But you can if you want."

"What's happening?" Ming Ming poked her head around the door. Garland just glared at her and she disappeared swiftly.

"You know, when I was little, my parents took me to see a psychic." The confession of Garland's was so unexpected; it startled Brooklyn out of his reverie. "I'm a twin. Bet you didn't know that. It was so unforeseen that they took me and my brother to a psychic. She said – she said…" Garland's voice trailed off into the darkness as he stared out the window. Brooklyn looked at him, interested despite himself. "'One of these children has been born steeped in sin, and wishes to do nothing but evil, the other has a soul so pure angels can do nought but bow before it.'" Garland shuddered, but kept going. "My parents decided to ignore the warning, at least, until my baby sister was born."

"You have a baby sister?" Brooklyn asked, confused.

"Had. When I was three. She died, at the age of four months." Garland's voice broke, in the gloom; Brooklyn could see a single tear track down his face. "Coryn and I had stayed with our grandparents, they lived in France. We'd been there for five months, so mater wouldn't be bothered by two hyperactive three year olds when she had a new baby. When we got back, when we finally got to see her…" Garland covered his face with his hands, his shoulders shaking. "Coryn saw her first. My parents called her Flavia. It means fair-haired in Latin. Then, I saw her. I touched her forehead… and her heart stopped."

"And your parents blamed you?" Brooklyn was shocked; the Seabalts were the model family for him, things like that didn't happen to model families!

"The family split that day. My parents ignored me, idolised Coryn. When we were of school age, Coryn went to a private school. I would have gone to the nearby hell hole, but my eldest brother, Taylor, managed to find enough money to send me to the same school."

"What sport does Taylor do?"

"He does three. Archery, shooting and fencing. He's best at archery; even at the age of fourteen he had fifteen thousand pounds to send me to school." Garland patted Brooklyn's shoulder and walked out the room. Brooklyn just stared into the garden.

It seemed that he wasn't the only one who had black days.

Adaira Seabalt removed her hard hat with a sigh. Something Marcus had said kept springing to her mind unbidden: There's something wrong with the kid. I don't know what it is, but I'm scared for him. She rubbed down her horse silently, nibbling her lip.

"Oh Petrova. What am I to do? I'm so scared for Garland." She whispered, burying her face in her horse's mane. Although she always seemed so calm, and in control, inside, her heart was breaking. She had to be strong.

It had been so long since she'd last seen Garland. All the time he'd been growing up, it had been her and Taylor that looked after him, from the minute the family looked down on him. Even though she'd only been twelve when Garland had gone to school. He'd left to avenge himself, to prove that he was just as good as Coryn.

Eventually, Adaira wept freely, her tears mingling with the snow that had started to fall.

Why was he doing this? Was he just as stupid as he sounded? Was he really such an idiot? All these thoughts travelled through his head as he made his way through the hospital. He was so wrapped up in his thoughts that he didn't notice the blue haired blader quietly closing the door he was planning to go through. He stopped when he noticed a pair of shoes on the floor and realised they were connected to feet.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Kai said angrily, glaring at Garland. Garland scowled; he'd hoped that he wouldn't have to see anyone on his journey. "Well? Haven't you caused enough damage?" Garland ground his teeth. Then he opened his clenched fist, revealing a ring.

He'd found it in Boris' drawer the other day, when he'd been searching for any information on Brooklyn and his 'dark days'. It confused him. It was tiny, smaller than anything he'd ever seen, he couldn't imagine that anyone's fingers could ever fit in it. There was a tiny 'T' engraved on it. It reminded him of a signet ring. There were Russian words carved into the inside, but he didn't understand any Russian, so they were useless.

"That's Tala's! Where the hell did you get that?" Kai's eyes were wider than he'd ever seen them.

"That's what I thought. So that's what the words mean. I got it from Boris-"

"And what, you've come here to do more damage?"

"No, actually. I've come here to give it back. If you'd let me finish, I would have said that I didn't get it directly from Boris, well, I did, but he doesn't actually know. There was loads of junk in that drawer; he must collect it or something." Kai closed his eyes; Garland could see the Russian evaluating the situation.

"Alright, you can give it to him. But I'll be behind you all the time. So you try any funny business and you'll wish you were dead." The two bladers glared at each other, but Garland nodded slowly, agreeing. Kai held the door open for Garland and he stepped into the silent room.

What struck Garland was how small Tala seemed. How small, yet how powerful. His presence was commanding, even if he wasn't there.

"Tala?" Kai stepped up to the teen. "I hope you don't kill me, actually, score that, don't kill me, but there's someone else to see you. I'm behind you, so yell if you need anything." Garland noted the hope that was so transparent in Kai, that maybe hearing his worst enemy in the same room would terrify Tala into consciousness, and maybe he would yell for help.

"I realise I'm the last person you would ever want to see you like this, but that can't be helped." The quietness of his own voice surprised him. "I was going through Boris' desk the other day, and I found this. I thought you should have it." Garland pressed the tiny signet ring into Tala's palm and closed his hand. "I'll leave you now." He couldn't help but look at the monitors as he passed.

Tala's heart rate had sped up, just the tiniest amount.

Taylor Seabalt picked up his largest rifle and checked the ammunition. Most of the world knew him as an amazing archer; it would surprise them to find out that he was also a superb shooter and strong fencer.

"Tay?" Taylor spun around, his blue hair whipping around behind him. All male Seabalts had the same silvery blue hair, but all of them had it styled differently. Now Richard was older, his hair was cropped close to his head. Taylor kept his loose, Marcus had his tied back in a bun, Coryn's dipped into his eyes and was usually tucked into the back of his shirt, and Garland's was loosely tied back.

"Yes, Marcus?" Taylor turned back to his equipment, moving onto his swords and fences.

"When did you find out that Coryn was evil?" The question shocked even Marcus. He had no idea that that was what he was going to say. Taylor was silent for so long that he was afraid that he wasn't going to answer.

"I'll tell you, if you'll battle with me." He said quietly. Marcus nodded and Taylor threw him a sabre. When Taylor practiced, he disregarded his armour and merely concentrated on his technique. As they battled, Taylor began to explain.

He'd first found out when he was fifteen. He'd come home early from an archery tournament; he hadn't even got to shoot, as one of the more novice archers had accidentally shot the judge in the backside. As was Taylor's custom, he began to make his way towards the twins' playroom, intending to talk to Garland about his day, and marvel at how clever the five year old was. Recently, Garland had begun to talk about one of the teachers at school, a PE teacher, female. Name of Bowden. How she had said that, if he continued working hard in her class, she would give him a beyblade, which was apparently what they were learning about. The way Garland talked about beyblading reminded him of how he talked about archery, how Adaira talked about Petrova, how Kylie talked about tennis, how Marcus talked about Bubba. It looked like Garland had found his forte. The day before, Garland had said that she'd promised to give him it the next day. As Taylor reached the door, he stopped, something making him pause before quietly opening the door, not knowing that it was going to change his life forever. He stifled a gasp as he saw Coryn standing above Garland.

"I'm the eldest. If it wasn't for me, then you wouldn't be here, 'coz you killed someone. You're evil you are, you know it. So you do as I say!" Coryn fell backwards as Garland flew at him, a little ball of unrestrained energy. Taylor stepped in, pulling the younger away from the older. He stroked the struggling Garland's hair as he talked to them.

"Hey, Garland… It's me, Taylor, shh." He murmured. "Coryn! Go and take your foul mouth somewhere else, far away from me and my guns!" Coryn disappeared out the door, and Taylor knew that things had changed, maybe forever. He stroked the five year olds hair again, feeling him shake. "Hey! Why you crying?" He crooned. "Didn't Miss Bowden say that she was going to give you a thingamajig, a beyblade today? Let's see this almighty thing then." Garland grinned slightly and delved into his pocket, pulling out something that looked rather like a spinning top, but was heavier and made of metal. "What's this?" He pointed to the bird that was engraved in the centre. Garland shrugged.

"I don't know. It wasn't there when Miss Bowden gave it to me, but, when Coryn was talking to me, I could hear this voice inside my head and it said don't listen to him, young master. You are strong, and one day you will be great. And I could see a bird, in my minds eye, or whatever Adaira calls it." His smooth brow furrowed for a second. "Hey, I remember now… Miss Bowden said they were called bit beasts, and the best bladers have them… Does that mean I'm going to be the best?"

"Does that answer your question?" Taylor sheathed his sabre and turned to Marcus. "When I saw Coryn beating up Garland because Garland didn't want to do his homework. Why? Are you joining us?" By us, he meant him and Adaira, Garland's sole providers and guardians.

"Y-Yeah. Coryn's given me the creeps for a while, to tell you the truth, Tay, but I didn't want to make a decision, in case I was wrong. But… This feels right. So, this birdie thingy is Apollon?"

"Don't let Garland hear you say that!" Taylor warned with a rare grin, as he picked up his bow.

"Pax?" Brooklyn looked up from his idyll trance to see Garland blocking the sun.

"Yes?" He said pleasantly. The day after a dark day was always a good day.

"What religion are you?" Garland sat down beside him. Brooklyn chuckled slowly.

"What odd questions you ask, Garland!" He smiled as Mystel sat down on the other side. "In answer to your question, I'm a Buddhist. You two?"

"Egyptian." Mystel mumbled, burying his head in his knees. Garland and Brooklyn exchanged a worried look, but decided not to say anything. Yet.

"Me? Catholic, my good friend." Garland stretched out under the sun, a look of pure delight on his face. Brooklyn shook his head in wonder before turning to Mystel.

"What's wrong?" He asked, his voice neutral. Mystel sighed quietly.

"It's just… Well, it's obvious you two are best friends, Crusher's best friend is his sister, and Ming Ming just gets on my nerves. Why can't I have a best friend?"

"Hey! You're our best friend." Garland chided gently. "I know what this is about! It's because Pax has a nickname and you don't, isn't it?" Mystel flushed, but nodded. "Well, the truth is, my Latin isn't too perfect, and you keep changing! But if you're so desperate, how does cicada sound?" Mystel raised an eyebrow.

"What does it mean?"

"It's a sort of… grasshopper." Brooklyn choked back a laugh. "I heard someone say that you floated like a butterfly, but stung like a bee. Insect, not many people know Latin, they'll never guess… at least I hope not." Brooklyn shook his head, shaking with silent laughter as Mystel launched himself at Garland, playfully pummelling him. Brooklyn joined in, sprinkling them with bits of grass. Suddenly, the three of them stopped, as they realised they were being watched.

Tyson stared at them, raising an eyebrow. Garland glared at him and he turned away. No doubt it would be all around the teams the way they were acting, after being so cold and heartless, they were even laughing.

Brooklyn looked up as someone knocked on the door. Mystel scrambled to get it, as Garland was asleep. It was Mr Dickinson. Mystel showed him in and tipped a glass of water over Garland to wake him up. He sat up blearily, his eyes wide and vague.

"M-Mr Dickinson!" He muttered, sitting up straighter.

"Sorry about waking you up, Garland, but I need to talk to you." Mr Dickinson watched as Garland got himself a drink, declining the offer for himself.

"We haven't poisoned it-" Brooklyn began. "But, I guess, if Garland's making it…" Garland threw a tea towel at him.

"What can we do for you, Mr Dickinson?" Mystel asked politely, whilst separating his two friends from their playful fight.

"Well, first of all, have you been in contact with Mr Balkov recently?" The three BEGA bladers shook their heads as one. "Also, Garland, I have received notification that you've been hassling one Tala Ivanov, whom you hospitalized earlier this month."

"I wasn't hassling him, I was returning something!" Garland protested angrily.

"That is beside the point. You have a restraining order written against him. Third, new laws have come into force, which mean that, if Mr Ivanov pursues his claim, you could be sued, or, even worse, imprisoned."

Garland turned pale and buried his head in his hands. Brooklyn put an arm around his shoulders.

"Oh yes, and, finally, I want you to come to the old building at three. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it had to be said."

And, with that, Mr Dickinson left.

Kylie Seabalt closed her eyes in the back of Bubba angrily. Generally, she got on quite well with her elder brother, despite his unfortunate tendency to blast 'Streetcar' out of Bubba's windows, but recently he had become unbearable, especially to poor Coryn. She had a sneaky suspicion that Marcus had joined the 'other' side, also known as 'The Cavaliers'. Clever Coryn had pointed out how similar it was to the civil war. Pater had sneeringly muttered something about Taylor's attitude in relation to this, and Taylor had scathingly muttered something shockingly rude which involved the words 'slap-head' and 'roundheads' along with a multitude of other, not so pleasant words. And so the two sides of the Seabalt family were named.

"Where the hell is Addy?" Marcus sighed, and climbed out again to go and look for his elder sister. He came back a few minutes later with Adaira in tow. "Change of plan, Kylie, you go with mater, pater, Coryn and Tay, Addy's coming with me, as she needs to be near Petrova."

Kylie rolled her eyes and stepped out the car. As she slipped into the middle seat, between Taylor and Coryn, she noticed the look that passed between Marcus and Adaira. So I was right, she thought smugly.

Garland shuddered as he stepped off the bus. It was only the fact that Brooklyn and Mystel would need his support that made him continues, and face the harrowing stares of the other teams.

"On your left," Brooklyn muttered. "Heading this way." Garland spun around and almost walked into Tyson.

"What are you doing here?" he said rudely. "It's only bladers that have been invited here!" Garland ignored Tyson, which only infuriated him more. "I can't wait until you get locked up for good!" Kai rolled his eyes and shared a glare with Garland. Beside him, Brooklyn shuddered and Garland moved away. And almost walked into his eldest brother.

"Tay!" He cried in surprise, throwing his arms around his elder brother.

"Hey Garland," Taylor said, his voice muffled.

"Umm, Gar? I think you better get off Taylor before he turns the same colour as his hair!" Marcus said, clapping a hand on his brother's shoulder. Garland grinned sheepishly and turned away.

"Tay, Marcus, these are my friends, Brooklyn and Mystel. Pax, Cicada, these are my brothers Taylor and Marcus." The four boys acknowledged each other politely. Suddenly, Garland pricked up his ears as he heard some very familiar voices.

"Hey, I wonder what would happen if I told Tyson you were here…"

"You dare… I'm still your team captain!"

"What, you want me to carry you now?"

"Watch it, Hiwatari! These crutches are hard!"

"Ow." Garland nodded to the two Russians, absently. They suddenly switched to Russian for a few minutes, before Kai beckoned him over.

"Be back in a minute," he muttered to Brooklyn. The orange haired blader nodded and Garland slipped away.

"Hey." Kai said huskily.

"Hi." Garland muttered, wondering why they had called him over. Kai was barking something to Tala in Russian, encouraging him, egging him on.

"Umm… I just thought you would want to know – I… I'm… I'm dropping the case." Tala said, all in a rush. Garland blinked, trying to figure out what the red headed Russian had said. Tala grinned impishly as a look of dawning comprehension appeared on Garland's face.

"You're dropping the case? Why?"

"Because… you gave me the ring back, and you pretty much only did what Bryan did, and I'd have to hate Bryan to hate you… Why, aren't you pleased?" Kai smirked at Tala, who proceeded to hit him over the head with a crutch.

"Well, yeah, but, it's a bit… unexpected. When I talked to Mr Dickinson earlier on today, he seemed pretty certain you were going to pursue the claim."

"What about him? He's an all talk spaz!" Tala snickered. Garland nodded thoughtfully.

"See you round, yeah?" The three boys parted on amicable terms.

Garland scanned the crowd for Brooklyn and Mystel. Eventually, he saw them, at the edge of the crowd.

"What's wrong?" Garland asked as he reached them.

"Nothing much. It's just, we feel a bit odd here, I mean, after all that's happened." Brooklyn said in a small voice.

"You have as much right to be here as everyone else!" Garland growled indignantly. "We did nothing more than the Demolition Boys did two years ago!" Brooklyn shrugged.

"We might as well go. It's obvious we're not welcome here." Mystel said, hopping from one foot to the other in impatience. Garland nodded and began to lead the way through the back street alleys. Suddenly, he stopped and Mystel hurtled into the back of him.

"Ow! Why did you stop?" Mystel muttered, rubbing his forehead, which had hit the top of Garland's shoulder blades. He stumbled out from behind, only to freeze in horror.

"Hello Garland." Boris Balkov smirked. Garland made no noise, but his hands gave away how scared he was feeling by shaking. Brooklyn stepped up and placed a hand on his friend's shoulder.

"Why are you here?" He snarled, surprised at the strength of his voice. "WHY ARE YOU HERE? What more can you do?"

"I want your pretty friend Garland." Boris replied, deliberately vague. "And I'm going to get him." Quick as a flash, he had Garland with a knife to his throat. "Come any closer and I'll hurt him."

"Leave him alone!" Brooklyn took a step forward and regretted it instantly. Boris removed the knife from Garland's throat and Brooklyn thought he might do as he had ordered; Boris suddenly stabbed Garland in the stomach. Garland's eyes bulged with pain and he let out a ragged scream before he passed out. Brooklyn moved forward to help his friend.

There were two shots. Brooklyn threw himself on the ground as a bullet whizzed past his cheek, clipping it as it passed.

When he looked up again, Boris had gone. He looked at a pale Mystel, blood soaking through one of the shoulders of his robes. Mystel bit his lip, trying not to cry out as pain coursed through his small body. However, he couldn't stop the tears that streamed down his face. Brooklyn ripped the bottom of his shirt off and bound it tightly. Then, together, they began to walk back towards the amassed bladers.

"We are pleased to welcome to welcome the Seabalt family, who have kindly offered to host the ball. As some of you may know, they are related to Garland Seabalt, leader of BEGA Justice 5. Could Garland please step up to join his family?"

And Brooklyn had to raise his eyes, great amethyst eyes, and say:

"Please sir. He'd gone. Garland Seabalt was kidnapped a few minutes ago."

Ooo… I love cliffys! Ok, actually I hate them, but I wanted to end it on this note. It's only a two part story, and it's definitely not a yaoi/slash story. It's a friendship story. Ok? I've already explained why it's probably OOC, so I don't have much more to say…

Just – R&R, please!

Phoenix

Xxx